gender equality

Each year across the world, people celebrate Women’s Equality, a holiday that originates from women being awarded the right to vote in the US.

The day is celebrated on 26th August and gives us a perfect opportunity to take stock of the progress we have made for gender equality in the world of work and technology, but also how far we have yet to come.

In the spirit of this, an array of business and tech executives have joined together to explain why women deserve their seat at the table in tech, their own struggles during their careers, and how they overcame them.

Michelle Fitzgerald, Director of Demand Generation and Events at Plutora

“I believe the best way to close the gender gap in the technology industry is to encourage girls to take an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at a young age. According to the National Science Foundation, in 2018 only eight percent of female high school students enrolled in engineering courses and only 23% enrolled in AP computer science classes. The same study found that those trends continued into the workforce with women filling only 28 percent of the jobs in the science and engineering fields. By diversifying the STEM workforce, women will be able to use their different perspectives to bring fresh, new ideas to the table and help revolutionise the future of technology.”

Lucie Sadler, Head of Content at Hyve Managed Hosting

“Women’s Equality Day gives us the opportunity to not only stand in solidarity with women across the USA, but to also reinforce the message that equality is not a female issue. There needs to be a shift culturally to recognise that equality is a wider social issue – and one that we are all responsible for.

“Too often the technology industry is tarred with the ‘lack of diversity’ brush, but thanks to mentoring initiatives, coding workshops and more women in leadership roles, we are starting to shake up the industry.

“But there’s still a long way to go. As women working in tech we must do all that we can to encourage diversity and equality in the workplace and to educate our peers.”

Connie Stack, Chief Strategy Officer at Digital Guardian

“The key to addressing many of society’s greatest challenges is also the key to improving the tech gender gap – education, particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Recent research from Microsoft and KRC Research found that confidence in STEM wanes as girls get older, but interest can be recovered when subjects are related to real-word people and problems, tapping into girls’ desire to be creative and make a difference in the world. At DG we’re trying to do just that by sponsoring the United Way STEM program, including hosting girls and boys for a cyber security training camp every summer.”

Amber Johanson, VP, Global Pre-Sales Engineering at Zerto

“It’s been 99 years since women were allowed the same rights as men to vote, and so much has continued to evolve and change in that time. Back in 1920, women had to really fight for equality, but today, women are able to pursue what they are passionate about in life, regardless of what field.

However, it’s still not all completely smooth sailing. There are still challenges and obstacles that arise for women, particularly in a field as male-driven as technology. In my first leadership role, I found that if I raised my voice, I was called emotional. It seems ridiculous, but I quickly realised that because of my gender, I was held to a higher standard.

The gender gap is still visible today, but we will continue working to close it. The best advice I can share to other women who are considering a job in a field that is male-dominated is this: If it’s your passion, pursue it. Set the expectation of being treated as an equal and don’t accept anything less.”

Svenja de Vos, CTO at Leaseweb

“It’s absolutely vital to encourage more women into the tech industry; not only is it important for a diverse workforce, but there simply aren’t enough skills and resources to keep up with growth with the number of people currently in the industry. For this to change, we need to start young, showing both girls and boys that tech can be fun. There is so much scope for creativity in tech – more than people think.

“Being a female CTO today still makes me a bit of a unicorn. And, despite my background and position, some still assume I don’t have technical knowledge. That said, my team respects me because of my technical expertise, not simply because of my title or in spite of my gender, and this is always how it should be.

“My advice to women keen to develop a career in tech is to just do it; don’t be put off by the stereotypes as a team comprised of people with an even balance of genders is more representative of the clients and customers you are building products for. Listen, learn and be the best version of yourself. Find the role that fits you best – after all, it’s person-specific, not gender-specific and now is the time to change perceptions while narrowing the skills gap.”

Bethany Allee, EVP Marketing at Cybera

“It’s inspiring to see the changing attitudes as more women play significant roles in the technology industry–especially over the past decade. As more women become policy- and decision-makers, we’re witnessing their influence spread across the entire industry. In turn, the industry is gaining important perspectives and ideas we’ve never seen before. Now that diversity has some time under its belt, there’s data to show leadership diversity correlates to financial returns.”

April Taylor, Vice President, ConnectWise Manage

“Schools are leading the way in representation for women in technology from a young age and organisations should be cognisant of the talent that makes up the current workforce. Every industry is tied to technology, so it’s great that the right education is available, especially to younger women because now they’re getting more exposure to potential careers within the tech sector. While there hasn’t been a significant increase, we have seen more women entering our company through our internship program because of that exposure and it’s our responsibility to welcome them to the tech space without making them feel different. From my personal experience working my way up through several different roles within the company, I’ve never felt there was any lack of equality whatsoever and I want to extend that feeling to the other women around me. We’re all colleagues, we’re all a team working together and we should continue to project that mentality to young girls and women throughout their careers.”

Anu Yamunan, VP, Products at Exabeam

“I’ve been active in the technology industry for almost two decades, and for as long as I can recall, it’s common for me to be the sole woman within the leadership team. I’m excited by the prospect of this beginning to shift. In the last five years, we’ve begun seeing an increasing number of female CISOs and executives. More impressively, we are beginning to see more large-scale, enterprise-level businesses being led by female CISOs.

Women, and diversity more broadly, bring a varying perspective to roles, which in turn, increases a company’s ability to meet the needs of their clientele. For example, stereotypes aside, women possess an increased capacity for multitasking and for attention to detail… despite multitasking. These skills, when deployed in a balanced team, can lead to increased workflow efficiency and a fined-tuned product.

But this is not possible without concerted efforts. On National Women’s Equality Day, we recognise that concerted effort lobbied by our foresisters…and the consistent strife undergone to win this right. As we continue to see a shift in representation in the technology industry, it is important to remember those who’ve dedicated such concentrated effort into actualising this reality.”

Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President at Skillsoft

“Taking stock on Women’s Equality Day is important. As a mum of a 13-year old ‘girl’, this topic is very close to my heart. This year we can see some positives.  Just this month we saw more girls taking science A-Levels than boys for the first time in history.  The major push to encourage more girls to take up science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in school and beyond is working – helped enormously by a growing number of successful female role models and skills initiatives.  But there are also some areas where improvement has been slow to materialise and far more work is needed.

Despite advancing in education, we are still seeing a huge disconnect between school subject choices and the boardroom when it comes to gender representation.  And across entire organisations, women are still being paid less than men.  Fewer than half of the UK’s largest employers have succeeded in reducing their gender pay gap this year, with 78 per cent still favouring men.  Education is key – from encouraging girls to pursue academic subjects traditionally seen as ‘for boys’ to highlighting unconscious bias in the boardroom.  Women’s Equality Day offers us a chance to self-assess; where is change needed and how do we do it?  One thing is clear in 2019 – we need to do much more.”

Krishna Subramanian, COO at Komprise

“It makes good business sense to strive for a balanced workforce that fosters gender equality. If you think about it, half of our population is female, more than half of college and university students are female – so why should companies not be hiring more of these talented individuals into the workplace? Businesses are becoming less competitive by not hiring women, due to the fact they are missing out on an essential division of talent.”